HC Deb 29 October 1980 vol 991 cc482-3
32. Mr. Hal Miller

asked the Lord Privy Seal what progress has been made in developing a European Economic Community policy towards Japan.

Sir Ian Gilmour

The Foreign Affairs Council on 22 July took the view that Commission proposals for a common commercial policy required further study. The subject is on the agenda for the next Foreign Affairs Council meeting on 24 and 25 November.

Mr. Miller

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is widespread support, certainly in the motor industry in this country, for the views reported today to be held by Mr. Haferkamp, that there is a need at the meeting next month for the EEC to arrive at a common trade policy towards Japan, for fear that otherwise there will be individual national initiatives which could lead to an outbreak of protectionism?

Sir I. Gilmour

I see my hon. Friend's point. If there were a satisfactory Community agreement it would have greater strength than member States acting individually could have. I am sure that my hon. Friend will agree that, in order to be acceptable to the United Kingdom, a common Community position on trade with Japan would have to safeguard our interests at least as effectively as do existing industry arrangements.

Mrs. Dunwoody

Is not the truth of the matter that the Lord Privy Seal does not have a satisfactory agreement at either industry or EEC level and that if an agreement is to be negotiated he will need new machinery which does not exist within the Community? Is not the reality that the Japanese are flooding our car market and that by the time the Government get round to doing something about it we shall not have a lorry or a car market left?

Sir I. Gilmour

The hon. Lady is indulging in her customary exaggeration. It is not happening; so far the Japanese have abided by their agreements. There is not a satisfactory Community agreement at the moment. That was the whole point of the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove and Red-ditch (Mr. Miller). He was suggesting that there should be an agreement.

Mr. Ian Lloyd

My right hon. Friend will be aware that our right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer recently circulated to all members of the National Economic Development Council a remarkable paper on Japan by our former ambassador there, Sir Michael Wilford. Since that paper would help to concentrate wonderfully the minds of those seeking to establish an effective European response to the Japanese challenge, will my right hon. Friend arrange for the paper to be given an even wider circulation?

Sir I. Gilmour

I will certainly consider my hon. Friend's suggestion.

Mr. McNamara

Is it not a fact that the problems of the motor car industry and import penetration are not related solely to Japan, but also to our alleged Community partners? Should not the real purpose behind the question be not just to single out Japan, but to have a proper policy that will protect this country against exports from other countries?

Sir I. Gilmour

I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman says. It has nothing to do with the question, which is concerned with Japan.